Golf Australia

McLeod on cusp of career defining win

Jake McLeod


Promising Queenslander Jake McLeod will need to overcome a former winner and his own nerves on Sunday if he is to claim the 2017 Oates Vic Open crown and cap off the biggest week of his young pro career.

A day after setting a new course record at 13th Beach’s Creek Course to snatch the halfway lead, McLeod rallied late in his third round to set up a final round showdown with 2013 champion Matthew Giles.

That duo sits at 17-under for the week, two stokes clear of their Sunday playing partner Jake Higginbottom, along with New South Welshman Dimi Papadatos.

It was Giles who stole the show late on Saturday afternoon, becoming the latest player to equal the Beach Course’s lowest score with an 8-under 64 of his own that shot him into a share of the lead.

The 27-year-old stormed to 8-under through 13 holes on the back of a sensational hole-out for eagle from 182-metres, Giles admitting his intimate knowledge of 13th Beach has lifted him into this position.

“I think I’m just playing smart around the course,” Giles told reporters after the round.

“I only hit one driver today and I think if I can keep the ball in the fairway off the tee, my iron play has been solid and my putter feels good as well.”



McLeod looms as the biggest obstacle in Giles’ path to a second Oates Vic Open Crown, the 22-year-old battling to a crucial 4-under 68 on Saturday that kept his momentum going.

Undoubtedly, the biggest boost came on his last hole of the day.

Like Giles, McLeod stole a birdie on the Beach Course’s gettable par-5 18th to hit the clubhouse with a spring in his step.

The young gun suggested after signing his card that his inexperience in the pro ranks might just prove to be an alibi on Sunday.

“It was a good round, nice to finish with a birdie too,” McLeod said after his round.

“I was just a little bit nervous at the start, but it wasn’t flashy it was just steady golf.

“Most of the time I get so nervous on the first tee, but then I settle down and after the first hole I’m fine.

“I’ve tried to work on it… I guess it’s good being nervous , it means that it means something to you.”

Papadatos will be joined in the penultimate men’s pairing on Sunday by journeyman Peter Wilson and Victorian Lucas Herbert.

That duo signed for rounds of 6-under 66 in friendly conditions on Saturday, Herbert entering the final day just three strokes back of the leading duo, while Wilson sits one further back at 13-under.

Herbert made his intentions clear after his third round, the talented youngster not shy in stating he was ready to win his home state’s Open.

“I’m sick of not winning,” said Herbert.

“So that’s going to be driving me tomorrow. Every time you get up near the lead like this you feel more comfortable, like you belong.

“So it’s good to see your name featuring there and giving it a run.”

A pack of eight players are clogging the leaderboard at 12-under par and look like the last of the hopefuls that could challenge for this year’s championship.

Former champions Richard Green (2015) and Matt Griffin (2014) are among that group, joined by Adam Bland, David Bransdon, Max McCardle, David McKenzie, Brad Moules and Christopher Mueck.

The final men’s group tees off at 11:30am tomorrow morning, followed by the final women’s group of 2017 featuring local hope Su Oh, Angel Yin and outright leader Mel Reid.

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